Fixing the quiet.

I keep trying to draft this, and I keep coming back to what other people have said that I admire. “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” “Not caring about politics is a privilege.” “Silence is a message.”

This feels like the kind of thing where I should be owning my own words, and not bouncing off those of others. Also it feels like the kind of thing where I should really stop delaying until I have near-perfect words. It’s fine to do that for my fiction when no-one’s waiting on it; it’s not fine to do that now.

Racism is a real and living thing. I am white, and was raised with that privilege; I have been trying to undo some of the things I’ve learned, and it’s pretty clear that I need to both try harder and make more of an effort to fix systemic issues. I’m going to try harder, because the current state of things is just not tenable and needs to get better. I am sorry I didn’t do more already.

Breaking time.

I mean, in that it’s time for a break. (The current schedule is a bit odd, as the standard work week is being broken up by statutory holidays, so it’s a lot of on-again off-again.)

I’m going to be doing some site updates over the next week. I don’t expect anything to change, but if you’re– hmh. Well, if you’re not reading this, I probably broke something? And if you’re reading this but it looks odd, my apologies, I’ll try to have it straightened out by 2020.

The weather isn’t looking like it’ll be too unpleasant at least, but I’ll probably spend a good chunk of the time off indoors, working on wrapping up reading and editing stories. It should be some nice downtime.

Interview with Cortesa Singh

Three questions with Cortesa Singh, resistance member of Bradbury Weeps and asteroid belter, survivor of the Oort Line on 2311.04.17, when the Chorister fleet swept towards earth. Interview recorded at the Silton Repository on Dirt.


Where were you from?

The belt. Parents planned against a kid but the pills didn’t work, and they wouldn’t sign me over to MarsCorp. Started flying our mining skiff–the Stendahl’s Promise–at fifteen. Wasn’t legal, but we fixed the pilot logs, clocked enough hours to start paying down the company debt.

Lost my leg and dad died in a space grit shower. Other belters got us back but the Promise needed repairs. My cousin Orsina fixed our maintenance logs so MarsCorp couldn’t deny the death benefit. Patched the Promise up, shared what we could with those who got us home.

Orsina taught me Bradbury.

Old Earth writer, before space flight. Told stories that ended with Earth gone and Mars being where we moved past the worst of what people did to each other.

You seen MarsCorp? All us little lights out in the black and they’re sucking us dry on contracts and margins.

Bradbury weeps.

So MarsCorp probes got lost and their systems broke and their scales weighed heavy and paid out extra and we’d share it round.

We were close to getting caught, when the war started.

How did you experience the war?

War, hah. Was a leaking massacre. Scrappy little ships what couldn’t cross a galaxy on the Oort Line, and what came for us–

Orsina and me stripped the Promise down to fuel and power, clad on extra armour, swapped scanners for weapons. I flew, she was gunner. Got through a Chorister hull, but half our weapons were blown clean off. Rest stopped firing.

Wanted to think they’d run dry.

We weren’t getting back anyway.

Gearing up to run the Promise right into the Chorister’s guts when Orsina–

Didn’t hear her coming. Was wearing Bashton’s Ears.

She used a medkit sedative.

Woke up too late.

People talk about Earth and Mars. Not about what it was like out in the black, after. Tatters of the Line stretching all the way to the belt.

The frozen air, leaking.

Understand it. Known her since we were too young to work. If we’d have been dying over nothing, fine, but…

Promise could’ve slowed that Chorister.

Haven’t seen Orsina since I dropped her on the Calabrese. Don’t know if she’s on Dirt or off on a Permancer ship or what. Haven’t checked.

Got nothing to say to her, now.

What are you doing now?

Fixing shit. *chuckles* Haven’t had time to take Promise off-world since I got here.

Dirt’s pretty easy. You can breathe free, step outside free… even water’s free, just leave enough for others. So much give here.

Sloppy or unlucky can kill you, but the belt taught me a lot that’s useful. Sinkhole at Jadoc? My filter masks kept the kids breathing long enough to get fished out. Webster flood? I welded the bridge that held. It’s not just scrabbling. It’s building.

Dirt’s…

We’ve got a chance here. Something new, like Bradbury dreamed we could be on Mars. Fleet’s holding on. Dirt’s building up. Kids from the sinkhole’re doing okay.

Couple still have bad dreams, imagine they heard things.

Dirt’s home now, right? It’s ours, free and clear, thank the Permancer.

Sure they meant well. Only.

Have dreams myself sometimes.

Bradbury said things about free dirt.


After the War is a science-fiction tabletop roleplaying game of memetic horror by  and . Ten years have passed since the end of the galactic war, and now we rebuild our new home on this alien frontier world. The Kickstarter is over, but soon you will be able to tell your own stories on Dirt.

Fortnight’s passing.

First, I’m very pleased to announce that the Kickstarter for After the War will be launching on November 12, and I’ll be able to share my story “Interview with Cortesa Singh” then! I’ve had a chance to read some of the other stories that will be published, as well, and I think it’s a really fantastic collection in a great setting.

Second, it’s been a bit. We’ve been getting into crunch time, and last weekend was mostly spent recovering, and this weekend I was planning to post an update but we lost power for nearly thirty hours (along with much of the city), so plans were kind of knocked for a loop.

I really do want to give a huge shout-out to the Journalling for Creativity with Fran Wilde class that Cat Rambo orchestrated; it was fantastically helpful in terms of a way to get some things organized, and I’ve managed to figure out a couple of sticking points as a result. I’d really recommend it if you get the chance (and please remember that Cat Rambo’s classes have three scholarships each).

(Finally, I’m done with my rabies vaccines. So that’s nice.)

 

CWW update 2018 week 4

Afraid I’m pretty sick this week – vicious cold going around and it got me.

Still, 1232 words done this week. Nearly done one complete plotline for my current project!

Also, a shout-out to Asha Bardon and Shannon Fay, who helped me figure out something pretty critical about a story I’ve been struggling with. Wanted to write a more in-depth post about expectations and story formats, but this week has been mad busy. Will try and get to it later, but in the meantime, wanted to thank them before even more time slipped away.

Magical alphabet noir

I have a short story that’ll be appearing in the No Shit, There I Was… anthology from Alliteration Ink! The anthology theme is pretty straightforward; you could submit any specfic story, as long as it started with those five magic words. It’s currently being funded on Kickstarter; an ecopy of the anthology is $5, although nearly as many people are going for the trade[1].

Alex Acks is doing a daily discussion of the stories over on his blog while the Kickstarter is running, and today he wrote about mine; you can read what he had to say here, and I am sharing this because I am… well, gleeful and flattered and so pleased that apparently my story did what I wanted it to do!

(The discussions are compiled under the no shit anthology tag, and make for excellent reading, joint and severally.)
  =====
[1] Omigod more of my words are going to be in print.

“Loob”, by Bob Leman

The proof is this: they are here, the Goster County dogs.

This is one of those moments where you really need to read the story in order to appreciate the line, which on the one hand I kind of tend to avoid–but on the other hand after four years of wanting a copy of Bob Leman’s collection Feesters in the Lake, I am looking like I will actually get a copy of Feesters in the Lake, and I am celebrating.

I’ve spoken about Bob Leman before. His writing, from what I’ve seen, is elegant and restrained. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it understated, but his horror whispers, it does not shout.

You can read “Loob” in full at Weird Fiction Review.

Possibly useful information

Most people I know know the things I’m about to say, but I don’t know most people. And since I’ve mentioned a few of these things to people over the last week and they seemed to find it useful, I figured this was not a bad time to mention it.

The Hugos

The Hugo Awards are awards for excellence in fantasy and science fiction. They’re awarded every year, and they’re not a juried award. Everyone who has a Worldcon membership for last year, the current year, or the year to come can nominate works for the ballot. Everyone who has a Worldcon membership for the current year can vote on the final ballet.

I’m not saying voting is trivial; the cheapest membership is $50 this year, and it’ll go up at the end of the month, and that’s in American dollars. (In recent years, the Hugos have provided a content pack that contains samples or full copies of the nominated works, which helps take some of the sting out of the outlay.)

Submission Grinder

So I was talking to someone at a party and she mentioned that she wrote very short fiction, about a hundred words, but “no-one would publish that”. After I was done blinking, I told her about the Submission Grinder.

The Submission Grinder is an online tool where you can keep a record of your writing and the places you have submitted it to. It lets you search for markets by genre, rate of pay, simsum or reprint policy, award nomination… you get the idea. It’s free.

There is also Duotrope. My understanding is that it provides a substantially similar service, but is not free.

Writer Beware

When you sell something, you will get a contract. If you are uneasy about that contract, if you don’t understand something, if you’re not 100% clear on copyright, if (as I did) you completely misread a phrase and are trying to figure out what the hell it means, you can go look at Writer Beware.

(You can even email them to ask questions. I did.)

Adjectives

I hear that every writing advice blog post has to have something about adjectives in it, and this is heavily about writing, so I thought I would mention them. That’s all.

Pixel renovation

I’ve reorganized this site a bit. New year, new look, general tidying, and all that.

It kind of looks like a Thomas Kincaide art collection threw up all over the top of the page, but given how little sunlight I’ve seen lately and how much time I’m about to be spending indoors at work, I am actually perfectly okay with this. I may prune down the number of images over the next couple of months, or change the layout, but for now I’m good.

The first weekend of 2016’s been okay. It looks like January will be a lot colder than December, but since I actually now own my first winter coat in about a decade, this is filling me with considerably less trepidation than I might have expected.

Work starts up again tomorrow, and writing has been going well, and I suppose things are generally being fairly unremarkable and pleasant. Going to call it a night, now, I think.

The proof is this…

The complete collected works of Bob Leman.
The complete collected works of Bob Leman.

I have only ever read three Bob Leman stories.

I read “Instructions” long long ago; looking at ISFDB, it would either have been in the September ’84 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction or the ’85 Year’s Best Science Fiction, years after it was published.

I read “Window” in The Best Horror Stories from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction collection. That was years after it was published, too. It stuck with me; I didn’t remember the author’s name at the time, though.

I read “Loob” in January of 2012. It was online at Weird Fiction Review, and I was sitting in an emergency room with a friend. It was very late and we were both zoney and tired, and I was reading the story on my phone. The language seemed like it could have felt stilted, but somehow it wasn’t, and the story pulled me along, and then I hit one of the lines and it chimed.

Weird Fiction Review had an article about Bob Leman, and I looked at that too. The description of “Window” pinged a memory, and I went to look at the Best Horror Stories collection and that was when I connected “Window” to Bob Leman.

I don’t remember when I connected “Instructions” to the story I’d read. I know it was before 2014, because when I was at the Tachyon Publications table at LonCon, I interrupted myself with “You have ‘Instructions‘ by Bob Leman? Wait, the Bob Leman?” and the gentleman manning the table very kindly told me that I was well-read, and then introduced me to The Boss in the Wall by Avram Davidson and Grania Davis, who I hadn’t heard of at that point.

(LonCon was a bit rough on my bookshelf space.)

Anyway! I have been sadly poking around the Internet to see if there’s a copy of Feesters in the Lake that by some minor miracle is going for less than $250, and it turns out that while there isn’t, his daughter is hoping to put his complete fanzine online. So that will be something to look at and read through, as it goes.

In the meantime, I will sleep well, and dream of Goster County dogs.